Gateway Financial Innovations for Savings (GAFIS)

Gateway to Financial Innovations for Savings (GAFIS) was a four-year project (2010-2013) funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and managed by consulting firm Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) that worked with leading banks in developing countries to help design and deliver new, inclusive savings products.

People living in poverty often lack access to safe, reliable ways to manage the little money they have.  As a result, they face de facto exclusion from the financial system the rest of us rely on.

To address this problem, an unusual philanthropic project formed partnerships with five large banks in the developing world. The approach was straight-forward: research and implement new approaches to providing poor people with the financial tools they deserve. This philanthropic-public-private collaboration focused on sustainable financial inclusion – developing savings accounts that could accommodate the needs of the “unbanked” while also delivering a return that allowed banks to continue service.

The partner banks were: Bancolombia in Colombia, Bansefi in Mexico, Equity Bank of Kenya, ICICI Bank in India, and Standard Bank of South Africa. Collectively, these five banks hold more than $250 billion in assets and serve more than 75 million customers. Over the course of the project, more than four million new GAFIS-linked accounts were opened, of which 900,000 were demonstrating savings behavior in the account.

For more on GAFIS and financial inclusion, read our guide “Financial Inclusion – Opportunities & Risks for Donors.”